Dear colleague,

I have tabled a report in Parliament outlining the operation of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) for 2013 – 2014, which is a requirement under section 37 of the Government Information (Information Commissioner) Act 2009 (GIIC Act).

Access the Report here.

The Report draws on my intention as NSW Information Commissioner to draw on a wider range of contemporary, relevant information to enable a better understanding of the contribution of each pathway – mandatory release, proactive release, informal release and access applications – to advance the Act’s intent of greater proactive release of information.

The Report collected data across five government sectors – NSW Government agencies, State-owned corporations and Ministers, Universities and local Councils – and provides a statistical analysis on how the law is being implemented and complied with in these sectors.

This year’s Report is a first step in broadening the scope on how we report on the operation of the Act. My continued commitment to the priority area of “integrated reporting” will further build our capacity to report on all four pathways in future years.

Snapshot of report outcomes
Encouragingly, several consistent trends were identified in the 2013 – 2014 Report that can be attributed to improved decision-making across all sectors covered by the GIPA Act.

Key findings include:
  • high levels of compliance with mandatory proactive release in the Council sector (89%) and Government sector (84%);​
  • agency internal reviews (access applications) continue to be the preferred channel (75%);
  • information release rates have been maintained (74%), refusal rates remain constant (8%) and decisions varied by the internal review process increased to 72% in 2013 – 2014;
  • however, there are reduced levels of agency timeliness in deciding access applications (80%) and application rates continue to fluctuate decreasing by 27% since 2010; and
  • compliance of authorised proactive release is lower compared to past years (64%). 
While the 2013 – 2014 Report provides some positive results, I acknowledge that there is still work to be done to promote access to information and achieve the objects of the Act.

The way forward
To address these areas, my key focus for 2015 will include:
  • an enhancement of the GIPA case management tool provided by the Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) to enable agencies to better manage applications;
  • guidance regarding proactive release;
  • increased training including e-learning modules for citizens and agency staff;
  • an information management scholarship; and
  • promotion of a holistic approach to information management to deliver greater efficiencies in streamlining service delivery, improve timeliness and promote compliance.
Training will also focus on improved decision-making at the initial stage to make information available at the earliest point and thereby promote proactive release of information.

The Act’s promotion of the presumption in favour of disclosure across all four information release pathways provides the most powerful demonstration of open and accountable government.

The way forward continues to be one of guidance, and harnessing the full potential of the Act’s pathways requires a prudent understanding of the legislation, its intent and operation.

I look forward to continuing our collaborative relationship and seeing the learnings from this report put in place to advance the broader policy objective of proactive release of information.

Should you have any questions, or require further information on this important report please do not hesitate to contact Maggie Phang, Acting Manager, Performance Reporting and Projects via email maggie.phang@ipc.nsw.gov.au or call (02) 8071 7030. Further information can also be found on our website www.ipc.nsw.gov.au.
 
Yours sincerely,

Elizabeth Tydd
CEO IPC, Information Commissioner

IPC's Privacy policy Information and Privacy Commission NSW | Level 11, 1 Castlereagh Street, Sydney 2000 Free call: 1800 472 679 | fax: (02) 8114 3756 | www.ipc.nsw.gov.au